Results from the Phase III SATURN study to examine the efficacy of OSI Pharmaceuticals’ Tarceva (erlotinib) have shown extended survival rates for patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Tarceva was shown to extend the survival of NSCLC patients when used as a single-agent maintenance therapy in patients who did not progress following first-line treatment with platinum-based chemotherapy.

OSI president of pharmaceutical business Gabe Leung said that based on the data, Tarceva is the first oral cancer therapy to show a survival benefit in the first-line maintenance NSCLC setting.

“Assuming approval, Tarceva will provide a new, convenient, non-chemotherapy treatment option for patients – allowing doctors to continue treating a patient’s disease without exposing them to the continuous burden and lifestyle constraints of long-term chemotherapy,” Leung said.

Overall survival rates increased by 23% compared to patients who received a placebo. The median survival for patients receiving Tarceva was 12 months versus a median survival of 11 months for patients receiving placebo.

Patients who had tumours without genetic mutations in their epidermal growth factor receptor experienced a 30% improvement in survival.